The Missouri House and Senate finished up an extremely productive legislative session last Friday evening as they gave final approval to several important measures. The regular session came to a close with the General Assembly giving final passage to more than 145 bills. The bills approved this year make substantive improvements for the people of Missouri by lowering taxes for working families, cutting bureaucratic red tape, providing expanded educational opportunities to young people, supporting the state’s veterans, and protecting victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse.
Fiscally Responsible State Spending Plan with a Record Investment in Education
One of the biggest accomplishments of the 2018 session is a fiscally responsible state spending plan that makes a record level of investment in K-12 education. The budget fully funds the Foundation Formula for two consecutive years for the first time in state history.
Some of our 2018 Legislative Accomplishments
- Working Family Tax Relief (HB 2540) – Missouri families will keep more of their paychecks under a tax cut approved by the General Assembly this session. The bill will provide Missourians with the largest single year income tax cut in the state’s history. The bill reduces the existing individual income tax rate from 5.9 percent to 5.5 percent. Additional triggers based upon revenue growth in the state will eventually lower the individual tax income rate to 5.1 percent, putting Missouri among the top states for lowest state income taxes.
- Corporate Tax Reform (SB 884) – In an effort to make Missouri even more attractive to job creators, the legislature has approved a bill that will make Missouri’s corporate income tax the second lowest in the nation. The legislation will lower the corporate income tax rate from 6.25 percent to 4 percent in 2020. The bill is designed to be revenue neutral by closing loopholes in the current corporate tax structure. The measure is meant to update the state’s outdated and complex corporate income tax code, and to create the best environment to drive economic development in Missouri.
- Grid Modernization and Rate Stabilization (SB 564) –Because utility rates for Missourians have increased at a rate four times faster than the national average, the bill will implement customer-friendly rate caps and create stability for the future costs of electricity. The bill will allow the state’s biggest electricity companies to make improvements to their infrastructure with the more consistent rate increases. The legislation will lead to more than $1 billion in new investment and 3,000 new jobs in Missouri.
- Expanding Rural Broadband (HB 1880) –Currently, rural electric cooperatives have certain powers, including the power to construct electric transmission and distribution lines or systems. Under the bill, such “electric transmission and distribution lines or systems” would be defined to include copper and fiber optic cable for the transmission and distribution of electricity.
- Rural Broadband Development (HB 1872) – The General Assembly approved a bill this year to help expand broadband internet service throughout the state. The bill establishes a program to award grants to applicants who seek to expand access to broadband internet service in unserved and underserved areas of the state. The program will be administered by the department of economic development. The legislation is meant to address the 61 percent of rural Missourians, representing more than one million individuals, who do not have access to reliable broadband services.
- Funding Road and Bridge Projects and Supporting the Highway Patrol (HB 1460) – Under legislation approved this session, voters will have the opportunity to decide if the state’s tax on fuel should be increased to provide a dedicated funding source for the state highway patrol, which will free up funding for Missouri’s roads and bridges. If approved by voters in November, the measure would gradually phase in a fuel tax increase of up to 10 cents per gallon by raising the tax by 2.5 cents a year for four years beginning July 2019. The bill is expected to raise at least $288 million annually for the State Road Fund to provide funding of Missouri state law enforcement, and $123 million annually to local governments for road construction and maintenance.
- Legalizing Industrial Hemp (HB 2034) – The Missouri General Assembly approved a bill that will legalize the growing of industrial hemp in Missouri. The bill is meant to promote industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity in Missouri.
- Treatment Courts (HB 2562) – A bill meant to improve the quality and consistency of treatment courts throughout Missouri. The bill will establish treatment court divisions, which include, but are not limited to, Adult Treatment Court, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Court, Family Treatment Court, Juvenile Treatment Court, and Veterans Treatment Court.
- Developing Missouri’s Workforce (HB 1465) – To help ensure Missouri’s system of higher education is working to meet the state’s workforce and education needs. The bill will give institutions greater flexibility to offer degrees that meet the needs of their local communities and businesses. The legislation will in effect allow community colleges to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees in certain programs. To address the lack of skilled workers in certain fields.
- Prevailing Wage Reform (HBs 1729, 1621 & 1436) – Legislation that would reform the state’s prevailing wage law to ensure taxpayers are getting better value when their tax dollars are spent on public works projects. The bill modifies the prevailing wage hourly rate so that if fewer than 1,000 hours are reported, workers will be paid the public works minimum wage, which is based on the actual county average wage for all workers reported by the Department of Labor. If more than 1,000 hours are reported, the workers will be paid the prevailing wage rate. The bill will also exempt projects under $75,000 from the prevailing wage law. The legislation is meant to save colleges, schools, counties, and cities millions and stimulate more building by making taxpayer dollars go further.
- Supporting Veterans (SB 573) – A wide-ranging piece of legislation approved by the General Assembly will provide additional support to members of the National Guard and the state’s veterans. Some provisions of the bill will allow veteran-owned businesses to participate in the Missouri Linked Deposit Program; extend the period of assistance in the Show-Me Heroes Program from one year to five years following discharge; establish the Veterans’ Bill of Rights; and establish the Missouri Military Community Reinvestment Program Act to assist military communities in supporting and sustaining their installations.